As an event and wedding photographer I gave up traditional camera straps a long time ago. There’s plenty of alternatives to camera straps, but what’s right for you is dictated by how you shoot, what you shoot, and what you like. My top three suggestions for camera strap alternatives are the Spider Holster, the Holdfast Moneymaker Harness, or the Peak Design Capture Clip. I’ve tried two of these extensively, so here’s a look at what I think about them personally.

Pictures are all from their official marketing, but all opinions are mine, and nobody has sent incentives or product samples.

Should you replace your camera straps?

I carry two cameras – one with a long lens, one with a wide lens – and with regular camera straps I had a lot of problems.

The biggest issue for me was the weight, and also posture pain from hunching to stop the camera straps slipping off. You can get rubbery non-slip straps but they just pulled my shirt out of shape.

Secondly, two cameras and two straps means a lot of tangling and untangling and that’s time I’m not watching what’s happening, looking for shots.

Finally, with straps cameras were always swinging around and banging into things, making it harder to get into some unusual positions for a shot without moving a camera out of the way or trying to wedge it behind me.

Alternative 1: The Spider Holster

SPIDER HOLSTER PRO - Review: Spider Holster vs Holdfast MoneyMaker vs Peak Design Capture Clip

I got mine in the UK from Amazon

Spoiler alert: this is my favourite!

Spider Holster make a few different products all based around the same basic system – a steel pin with a large ball head attaches to the bottom of your camera, and slots into a clip mounted on your waist so that the camera hangs upside down at your side.

They can sit there freely, ready to be lifted out of the slot when you need them; or you can flick a switch to lock the pin in so it can’t accidentally slide back up the holster and fall off, very useful if you need to run to the next location! I lock them in when I need to run somewhere, when I’m in a crowd so they don’t get accidentally pushed up and out, and when I’m shooting in public so they don’t get stolen from my belt. Other than that I tend to leave the lock disengaged. Either way, my cameras have never fallen out once attached, in YEARS of using this system.

They have three versions: Black Widow, for consumer point-and-shoot cameras; Spider Light, suitable for mirrorless cameras with smaller lenses; and Spider Pro, suitable for everything up to pro DSLRs and heavy lenses.

For all versions you can get a belt-holster-and-pad system, or just get the holster as a separate piece that you attach to the belt on your trousers. I think most professional camera systems are a bit too heavy for that, so I’ve got the Spider Pro belt with two holsters and pads attached.

The Black Widow holster is made of strong plastic but it’s really not for professionals – you need the Light or the Pro depending on your camera type and how you shoot. Both use the heavy-duty metal holster. The main difference is the plate that attaches to the camera.

The Pro plate is reassuringly chunky, and adjustable in that you can have the pin on the left or right of the plate depending which side of your body the camera will hang, so that the camera will always hang with the lens facing backwards and the hot-shoe facing down. This means if you have flash attached it’s pointing down rather than out to the side.

The Light plate is thinner and smaller, designed especially for mirrorless cameras without a battery grip attached, and it’s adjustable to leave access to the battery slot. The Light plate also only allows the pin to attach in one position, which means that your right-hand camera will hang as usual (lens back, flash down) but a camera on your left side will hang lens-back and flash out to the side.

I rarely use on-camera flash if I can help it, but when I do it’s attached to my wide-lens camera which is usually on my left hip. So, if I use my Spider Light plates (only when I don’t have the battery grips attached) I’ll just need to swap my wide-lens camera to my right hip, long-lens to my left. No problem.

Spider Holster pros and cons

The single biggest reason I love the Spider Holster is the freedom I feel! This system gets ALL the weight off my shoulders. I can barely feel the cameras at all, even when fully loaded with battery grip and big lenses.

There’s no cameras swinging around erratically, they’re always exactly where I left them. After a couple of shoots you’ll be able to place one camera into its holster while picking up the other without needing to look down at all.

I also have complete freedom to put my camera wherever I need it, if I find an amazing angle that’s arms-length away in any direction. There’s nothing tethering the cameras to my body a restrictive amount, which is a problem I have with the Moneymaker harness (below).

But this ‘pro’ is also the main ‘con’ – there’s nothing to catch your camera if you drop it, or miss the holster when replacing it. Putting this in perspective, I’ve only missed the holster once in five years and it was due to carelessness rather than inexperience. One possible solution is to add a hand-strap to the camera as shown on their website, but this does add something else to catch on chairs etc as you squeeze past. And it could slightly slow down fast changes from one camera to the other.

Also, especially with two cameras you have to be careful with tight table arrangements, and going around corners or through doorways. Because the cameras are attached fairly rigidly rather than swinging on straps, if you push through a gap and the camera doesn’t quite clear it, they won’t be pushed backwards like they would on a strap – something’s got to give, and the main vulnerability is anything attached to the hotshoe as that’s the weakest point of your camera.

Despite these two ‘problems’ with the system I just love it and even after using a Moneymaker harness for a few weddings I’ve gone back to the Spider Holster pretty much exclusively. I just HATE cameras swinging around, and I love the fact that my cameras aren’t restricted in any way – I can go way over my head, or right down on the ground, with no strap or harness restricting their movement.

But the biggest draw for me is my cameras can be fully loaded and I just can’t feel the weight AT ALL. No more weight-related back or shoulder pain. Once you’ve experienced this it’s very hard to give it up!

Alternative 2: Holdfast MoneyMaker Harness

MM Gallery Landscape 3 - Review: Spider Holster vs Holdfast MoneyMaker vs Peak Design Capture Clip

I got mine in the UK from Rigu.

The Holdfast Moneymaker harness is the best looking harness product available I think, and I do think appearances are important in my market.

For example, the Black Rapid harness is very popular but I’ve always thought it looks a bit militaristic with its black nylon straps and clips. Very functional, and totally fine looks-wise for sporting events for example for a sporting event, but it can be ugly on top of a nice wedding outfit. The leather Holdfast harness fits a lot better with my aesthetic for events and weddings.

The harness is one long loop of leather that goes over your shoulders, loops straight down under your armpit, and crosses at the back. The cameras are attached to separate leather tethers that hang down under your armpits by strong metal loops. The main attachment is a hook clip that attaches to a metal loop you’ve screwed into your camera’s tripod socket, and for safety theres a separate tether that clips onto one of the strap eyelets on the side of your camera.

There’s a few different sizes available, all adjustable, and once you’re set up the cameras hang upside down and unless you lean forward (even a little) the cameras tend to naturally lie slightly behind you, halfway around to the small of your back.

Moneymaker Harness pros and cons

There’s no risk of dropping a camera with the Moneymaker harness. If you do drop one, so long as you’re standing up it’ll just fall by your side. It’s also great for getting a shot over a balcony, no need to worry about the camera slipping and plummeting 20 feet to the ground!

Because of this you don’t have to think so much about putting down one camera and picking up another – there’s no clip or holster to miss – just lower one camera, let it go, and grab the other. It saves around a second, and all the risk, when you’re swapping from one camera to the other in a hurry.

And because there’s no belt involved you’ve got a lot more space on your belt for kit and lens pouches if you need them. Although personally I have room on my Spider Holster Pro belt for two pouches if I need them.

However, the harness doesn’t solve the problem of cameras swinging around, and this is one problem that almost kills the entire system for me. I HATE cameras swinging around. With the Spider Holster my cameras are at my hips and they’re going nowhere. With the harness I was always having to adjust my position to stop the unused camera swinging into a wall or a guest’s head.

Worse, left for a few minutes as I move around a shoot my cameras will often spin themselves around a few times so that the tethers wrap around the camera and need spinning back on themselves a couple of times when I come to use them again.

Also, because it’s a strap system if you have any other bags or pouches you want to sling across you during part of a shoot, that’ll really get in the way of your cameras.

And obviously, it puts some weight back on your shoulders. Even though it’s diminished because of the way the straps cross your back, that weight is there and on a long hot wedding day your shoulders will get sweaty, so I find myself wanting to remove it for a break now and again, or at least adjust everything to let my shoulders breathe a bit. After using the Spider Holster I don’t really enjoy having to adjust straps on my shoulders.

And finally, you can’t position your cameras more than 1.5 to 2 feet away from the side of the harness they’re attached to. That’s an awkward distance if you want to get the camera way over your head, or down to ground level even while kneeling. This really frustrates me as I love the freedom of the Spider Holster.

You can of course unclip a camera from the harness, fairly quickly in fact. But getting it re-attached is about five or six seconds work so you can’t suddenly swap back to your other camera quickly.

These things might not bother you at all but after several shoots with the Moneymaker they really bothered me, and whenever I’m wondering if I should give it another go I usually end up taking the Spider Holster instead.

Alternative 3: Peak Design Capture Clip

 

Available from Amazon here

I have a couple of Peak Design pouches, but I’ve never used their Capture Clip system, so please know this is not a ‘review’ based on practical experience with the system. However, I’ve checked it out in use by fellow photographers, and compared how it works to the Spider Holster.

It’s essentially the same principle as the Spider – a plate on the bottom of your camera attaches to a plate clip on your belt – or anywhere else you can attach that clip such as the front of a Peak Design pouch, or the shoulder strap of a backpack. The plate and clip slot together through angled grooves, rather than a ball-head pin sliding into a slot.

It’s beautifully engineered and appeals to a lot of photographers, but I have one practical problem with the design: the way cameras attach to the clip means the hot-shoe points outwards – away from your body, not down like on the Spider.

For this reason the Capture Clip seems to me unusable with a flash or one of those tall Pocket Wizard triggers attached. And even with just a shallow trigger such as a Godox X1 or X Pro, it’s sticking straight out at an angle that’s begging to be knocked off by narrow gaps or guests pushing past.

So as someone who’s never used one the Capture Clip looks like a low-profile and beautifully engineered solution if you don’t attach a flash or trigger to your camera, making it unsuitable for me sadly.

My favourite

I just love the Spider Holster system. It gets all the weight off my shoulders (I can barely feel the cameras at all). I have complete freedom of movement when I’m trying to get my camera somewhere awkward. With flashes and triggers attached they point downwards rather than outwards. And cameras aren’t swinging around all day bashing into things.

But everyone is different and I know people who swear by their Moneymaker harness, or their Peak Design Capture Clip!

I hope this help you make your own mind up about what to try, and if you have any questions just let me know in the comments below.